Student Loan Repayment Assistance

by Inessa
(Honolulu, Hawaii, USA)

Student Loan Repayment Assistance - Private Loans = Starving Artist - I have always grown up without any financial help and a dream to go to college. That being said, and in my hurry to complete my degree, I took out three private loans in the amount of about $38,000.

I currently have a part time job and am selling as much art work as I can in order to make my enormous payments, month to month. The amount I owe in comparison to what I make is unbearable, and although I am suffering the consequences, I am happy to have a degree I am so passionate about.

Although I realize I put myself in this position, I do not regret anything I did because I can say I successfully completed my bachelor's with a great GPA and a major that makes me extremely happy.

What I do regret is not exploring my financial options ahead of time, to better prepare for my future. For instance, Federal Student Loans could have saved me a lot of money every month, and Scholarships for College could have eased the burden of education costs. I believe financial preparation is of great importance when considering college, not to say that is what will make or break a college decision, but exploring all financial possibilities to give you the best options is something so crucial when it comes paying for college.

Now that I have this information, I am applying for Master's programs and know what I need to do so I will not make the same mistake and really invest in researching everything I can to create a better financial situation when, and after I complete grad school. I say preparation is the most important part of college costs because once you invest in loans, you are under a contract to pay a certain amount, a certain interest, etc, and although there may be some deferment plans, or forbearance options , private loans in my experience aren't lenient at all.

Once you get yourself into the situation I have at hand, it is important to see where you are financially and if your cost of student loans exceed your cost of living, a situation I know all too well. Firstly, see if there is any type of deferment you can obtain if you cannot pay and need a quick option; some loans have an in school deferment, some have an unemployment deferment, etc. There are also forbearance options, for instance one of my loans gave me the option to have six months worth of "skipping" payment, if you will, and the interests is added on to the end of the payment.

See if you have exhausted all your options with the loans you already have (interest only payments, deferments, etc) and if there is absolutely nothing you can do, you have to find other sources of income. Look at another part time job, or a job that pays more; do odd jobs such as cleaning, babysitting, washing a car, selling arts and crafts, selling clothing or odds and ends you don't use. Trust me I have been here, working three jobs at a time, picking up odd jobs, and trying to put my artwork out there. I just sold a painting for $400 in order to make a Sallie Mae payment. Research ways you can make money quickly, I have seen even the most extreme ways one can make money, from secret shopper to selling your plasma, there are ways to make money quickly.

This is probably not your typical essay, but it comes from real life experience, I have done almost all the things mentioned above in order to pay these bills, but the reality is I have to continue making these payments. I hope this essay firstly reaches out to students who have not yet taken out private loans so they understand this should be the absolute last option in paying for education. Secondly, I hope this reaches out to students in a similar situation as myself and that some of the ideas or tips I mentioned can benefit them at least a little bit.

Paying off student loans is tough, but I hope with the experience I have, I am able to prevent or help others from the financial burdens of education.

Read more advice on from other students and parents at Paying on Student Loans

Comment from your friendly team at College Financial Aid Advice

Thank you Inessa for sharing your experience with student loan repayment assistance. As you’ve discovered, private loans are the most expensive choice for student loans. See if you qualify for the federal loan consolidation program to reduce your loan payments. Good luck.

How to Pay Off Student Loans

(by Tara, Maryland)

It's your first semester of college....You got your furniture, clothes, favorite video game system, and your laptop packed to travel, but what’s next? Here's a thought, your financial situation. With the rigors of class, studying, and after school activities will there be time allotted for a job, maybe so, but how will you know before your there? If not there is always financial aid, they will give you all you need right, but then comes the payback.

The key to financial aid is to get an understanding of what you need and avoid taking more for what you want. This simple way of thinking will not allow you to fall into that hole that is debt after you have that degree in your hand. To avoid starting that new job in the negative and watching that first paycheck be whisked away to pay it off month in and month out.

Before that first day of class and before submitting for financial aid, why not help yourself on the backside by checking into some simple things that will allow you to never over reach the boundaries of debt post- graduation. First, student transportation , look into the distances you are able to live away from campus. Public transportation is it available, how often, and will it cost you? Other modes are walking, on a small campus this is the easiest way to not have to worry about paying for fuel and insurance on that nice car of yours. Maybe even purchasing a bike now will save the money in the end that you would have to spend on parking permits and bus passes.

Another way to limit your spending is to set a monthly grocery list. This list can be posted on the fridge or the cupboard and be taken to the store every time you need it. Cook food at home for the week instead of hitting the dining halls or restaurants. Avoid dropping that 20 dollars on wings at the local pub at lunch. Of course treat yourself here and there, everyone knows an evening out lowers the stress level but limit it to once a week or twice a month. Stick to that grocery list you have set, this allows you to know how much is going out each month for food and other essentials.

Keep a close watchful eye on your bills, after all its money going out right? Get rid of the extra 40 dollar internet cost per month over the four years and purchase something such as an Ipod touch, or an Ipad. The cost up front will be pricey, but in the long run, 40 dollars a month for four years is 4800 dollars. You have that Ipad paid off over 10 months and wifi on campuses costs you nothing. Limit that cable TV package. Of course it’s nice to watch your favorite television series week in or week out, but the extra costs for the premium channels nowadays is insane, while Netflix is eight bucks a month. This on average is about 22-32 dollars cheaper a month then all the extras today's cable companies provide.

The biggest tip is to find a system that fits your personality type to be able to keep tabs on these expenses. Penny pinch so to speak. Be sure to keep all receipts, keep the check book balanced, and if needed set up an excel spreadsheet to track your spending monthly. Sure it takes time but in the end, it will pay off by not having you paying out.

The money through financial aid is there, sure it is available, but it always is. Don't take the bulk up front, just take what is necessary and monitor it closely. Semester to semester you may need more, maybe less, but by sticking with what is needed, in the end you will have more for what you want.

Read more tips on Student Loan Repayment Assistance from other students and parents who have been through the student loan process.

Comment from your friendly team at College Financial Aid Advice

Thank you Tara for sharing tips on saving money so you don’t have those huge student loans to pay off. Best of luck to you.

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